Australian marriage equality advocates have welcomed news a US court has ruled California’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

A federal appeals court panel ruled on Tuesday that the voter-approved ban (Proposition 8) on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution by discriminating against gay and lesbian people.

Australian Marriage Equality national spokesman Alex Greenwich said the decision sends a message that same-sex couples should be treated fairly.

“The ruling is great news for same-sex couples in California and their families who’ve been fighting a long and hard battle for marriage equality,” Greenwich told the Star Observer.

“It sends a wonderful message that more and more places around the world are embracing equality and embracing the value of it. “Everytime a jurisdiction, whether it’s a parliamentary vote or a court decision, moves in favour of marriage equality it helps the message of the campaign here and everywhere else around the world.”

A panel of three judges found that Proposition 8 — passed in November 2008 by Californian voters (52 percent to 48 percent) —violated the equal protection rights of two same-sex couples who took the case to court.

“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the ruling.

It’s thought the case will now go to the Supreme Court where a decision could have implications for other states’ ability to ban same-sex marriage.

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